Here for a time we leave him, while in another chapter we speak of an event which, in the natural order of things, should here be narrated.
Two or three days before the morning of which we have spoken, Uncle Timothy, who like many of his profession had been guilty of a slight infringement of the “Maine” liquor law, had been called to answer for the same at the court then in session in the village of Canandaigua, the terminus of the stage route. Altogether too stingy to pay the coach fare, his own horse had carried him out, going for him on the night preceding Durward’s projected meeting with ’Lena. On the afternoon of that day the cars from New York brought up several passengers, who being bound for Buffalo, were obliged to wait some hours for the arrival of the Albany train.
Among those who stopped at the same house with Uncle Timothy, was our old acquaintance, Mr. Graham, who had returned from Europe, and was now homeward bound, firmly fixed in his intention to do right at last. Many and many a time, during his travels had the image of a pale, sad face arisen before him, accusing him of so long neglecting to own his child, for ’Lena was his daughter, and she, who in all her bright beauty had years ago gone down to an early grave, was his wife, the wife of his first, and in bitterness of heart he sometimes thought, of his only love. His childhood’s home, which was at the sunny south, was not a happy one, for ere he had learned to lisp his mother’s name, she had died, leaving him to the guardianship of his father, who was cold, exacting, and tyrannical, ruling his son with a rod of iron, and by his stern, unbending manner increasing the natural cowardice of his disposition. From his mother Harry had inherited a generous, impulsive nature, frequently leading him into errors which his father condemned with so much severity that he early learned the art of concealment, as far, at least, as his father was concerned.
At the age of eighteen he left home for Yale, where he spent four happy years, for the restraints of college life, though sometimes irksome, were preferable far to the dull monotony of his southern home; and when at last he was graduated, and there was no longer an excuse for tarrying, he lingered by the way, stopping at the then village of Springfield, where, actuated by some sudden freak, he registered himself as Harry Rivers, the latter being his middle name. For doing this he had no particular reason, except that it suited his fancy, and Rivers, he thought, was a better name than Graham. Here he met with Helena Nichols, whose uncommon beauty first attracted his attention, and whose fresh, unstudied manners afterward won his love to such an extent, that in an unguarded moment, and without a thought of the result, he married her, neglecting to tell her his real name before their marriage, because he feared she would cease to respect him if she knew he had deceived her, and then afterward finding it harder than ever to confess his fault.